As for this week, it was a rather hard week, so I was very glad to have the chance to talk to you guys and get another big boost to work harder and harder. We ran into lots of disappointments really, one of which being the baptism of the family, Alexandre and Luciana. They did our challenge, but only part of the week, and they all didn't come to church. The Assistant was burning us pretty bad during the week, saying that we need to baptize them. We were able to sit down with them and talk, and the consensus came that they want to be baptized together. We then gave them a second challenge to continue reading the Book of Mormon, praying, and find a date for their baptism. They accepted, and it was marked to talk about it in a Family Night after we talked to the family last night. Alexandre didn't come to church, and stayed rather closed while we talked to them. Luciana said that they didn't find a date, and they said they would continue doing these things and give us a date the next Sunday.
Throughout the entire week, we had the majority of our plans fall through, and we ended up walking and doing contacts on the street. After a few days of this, I realized that our contacts were really giving us much success. We began talking about how we could use our time better and more efficiently find people to teach. We are going to start knocking on more doors, but it is hard with so many business and apartment buildings. We need to go kind of far, to the limits of our area, to find houses to knock. I am hopeful that we will find more success doing this. :)
This last Saturday was a very good day though. I found myself being touched by the Spirit throughout the entire day. I learned many things that will help me improve as a missionary, and even a normal member after my mission. Saturday morning, we had a very serious meeting with a man from Santa Maria. We received a call saying that someone was at the church asking for the missionaries, and he wouldn't tell his problem to anyone else. We rushed over and sat down with this guy. Turns out, he was an truck driver, working for Petrobras, one of the leading gasoline companies here in Brazil. He was a member, baptized four years ago. Used to be a strong and devout Catholic, until he met with the missionaries. He was exploring Rio, and was away from his truck (using the bus for transit). Somewhere along the way, he was robbed of everything and was left to walk. He didn't know what to do, so he sought a Mormon church, and found us. He was very angry at what happened to him. We were able to help calm him down and get him help. He left us with a thank you and told us of the courage we have coming to a strange country, learning a language, and leaving all relations behind. He made me realize the importance of my calling, and always to work my hardest, as to magnify my calling. A little bit later, we passed a member that told us a little bit about his mission. He said those two years were the happiest in his entire life, but only when he was working the hardest he could. That helped me too. Then, we visited an inactive member. He is a returned missionary, but has gone way off the path. We were talking to him, and then got on the subject of coming to church tomorrow. He began to explain why he didn't have any desire to return. When he was an active member, he always loved his callings and tried to help as many people as possible in magnifying his calling. He began seeing many people who sometimes didn't take their callings serious, or didn't have the intent of helping others. Sometimes people did their callings for a number. It was really sad as he described that once he left the church, no one ever visited or asked how he was doing. He felt lonely and that no one cared. As he spoke, the Spirit touched me strongly. In my work here as a missionary, I need to do all that is possible to love my investigators and the members-- the help only thinking of them, and not just for some number. As for life after a mission, I feel that can apply to all members in their callings and even jobs.
I am grateful for this week, and I have learned a lot. My testimony is growing ever stronger each and every day I am out here on a mission. I am excited to work hard this week, and find more souls to save! I love and miss you all lots, have a wonderful week! :)
Elder Steven Bennett